Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving food? I’m not sure I could pick just one. If truly pressed, I might say mashed potatoes, but there are SO many other tasty options: green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and more. (And let’s not even START on desserts.)
Fortunately, this healthy Thanksgiving Grain Bowl offers the flavors of several turkey day favorites all in one! This easily modifiable recipe works well for throwing together a bowl full of leftovers–or for when you just want something a little lighter. Roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and feta come together with high-fiber, protein-packed quinoa and a sweet-and-tangy olive oil dressing.
Sounds just about right for the day after Thanksgiving, yes?
And while we’re talking Thanksgiving, let me pull out my nutritionist hat with a little dietary advice. It’s all too easy to overdo it at Thanksgiving dinner, but this year, try to remember that how much you eat is up to YOU. Just because it’s a tradition to down every single item in the family buffet, it’s not actually required. You can enjoy a great meal without getting to the end of it feeling like you’re about to burst. Choose what you really want to eat and let the rest go. And just say no to food pushers! If Grandma or Aunt Carla says you absolutely must eat her marshmallow-sweet potato concoction, indulge her with a bite, not a giant scoop. It’s your body, your meal, your decision.
Here’s to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! And check out my post on 10 Ways to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Grain Bowl
For the grain bowl:
- 1 c. brussels sprouts, sliced in half
- 2 1/2 c. butternut squash, diced into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 c. quinoa
- 3 c. vegetable broth
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries
- 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 c. pepitas
For the dressing:
- 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, spread brussels sprouts and butternut squash in two separate groups. Drizzle both with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle butternut squash with nutmeg and thyme. Roast about 30 minutes, stirring once.
- While veggies roast, cook the quinoa. In a medium pot, bring quinoa and veggie broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
- Make the dressing: In a small measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients, or blend with an immersion blender.
- Assemble the whole thing: In a large bowl, combine roasted vegetables, cooked quinoa, cranberries, feta, and pepitas. Stir in dressing and toss to combine.
I could sit down with a good cookbook like a good novel. A nice night in, to me, is poring over a new cookbook, imagining each step of each recipe, and picturing the delicious finished product. It’s basically the equivalent of fantasy fiction for cooks.
With a fairly large collection of cookbooks (plus compulsively checking them out from the library, as I do) there are always those recipes I bookmark during my perusing and think, I’ll make that eventually. But time goes by, I find new and exciting ideas on Pinterest, and sometimes things I think I’ll make fall by the wayside.
These Herbed Tuna in Heirloom Tomatoes are one such recipe.
For years I’ve been a fan of Real Simple’s line of cookbooks, and this recipe called out to me from Meals Made Easy as long ago as–dare I admit it–2009. I thought it looked healthy, easy, and bit unique. I mean, how often do you put fish in a tomato? Sounds kinda weird…but not in a bad way. Plus, I find the idea of food as its own serving container ADORABLE and kind of a genius way to minimize on doing dishes.
The thing is, though, heirloom tomatoes are only in season so often. And even when they are, I usually pass them by in the grocery store, thinking they’re just a little too fabulous for me. They’re the fine china of vegetables: Fancy and gorgeous, but really? For everyday?
You know what, though? Yes! Why NOT splurge on something as healthy (not to mention gorgeous) as heirloom tomatoes? I picked up these multi-colored models yesterday determined to finally put fish in a dang tomato!
The results were worth the wait. (Of ten years, haha.) I really enjoyed not only the process of stuffing these heirlooms for unique presentation, but also the fun of eating them. The tuna mixture is flavored with a Mediterranean profile of lemon juice, olive oil, capers, parsley, and pepper, but could be played with any way you like. Plus, if you have dietary restrictions like gluten-free or dairy-free, these fit the bill.
Give them a try for a tasty, healthy, seasonal summer lunch!
Herbed Tuna in Heirloom Tomatoes
- 3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
- 2 6-oz. cans tuna, drained, preferably albacore packed in olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. capers
- 1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- drizzle olive oil, if you used tuna packed in water
- Using a paring knife, slice a circle in the top of each tomato. Scoop the flesh out of tomatoes, leaving about a 1/4 inch-thick tomato "shell." Drain any excess water out of the flesh you've scooped and dice it into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces.
- Place diced tomato in a mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix to combine.
- Scoop the mixture into your tomato shells and serve.
Smoked salmon is one of those foods that polarizes people. You either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the former category. I love smoked salmon for its high omega 3 content, its smoky flavor, its chewy coolness, and the way it slices so clean with a sharp knife.
My husband, on the other hand, falls into the “hate-with-the-heat-of-a-thousand-burning-suns,” “vomit-vomit-vomit” smoked salmon camp.
It’s ok. I get it. It’s an acquired taste–and even more so, and acquired texture. (Is that a thing, “acquired texture”? That’s going to be my new phrase for velour jumpsuits and those reversible sequin unicorn pillows my 7-year-old adores.) Anyway, it’s all right if the cold-and-clammy texture of raw fish doesn’t appeal to you. But I think there’s still hope for you to like smoked salmon in the form of this delicious Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip.
Although the signature taste of smoked salmon comes through in this appetizer, its usual fishy texture is nowhere to be found, pulverized into oblivion by your friendly food processor. What’s left, when blended with cream cheese, lemon juice, horseradish, fresh dill, chives, and a few other simple ingredients, is a creamy, herby dip that’s perfection on butter crackers, crudités, or as a spread on toast.
Since my husband and kids aren’t fans of smoked salmon in any form, I’ve been powering through an entire batch of this by myself this past week, and I am not mad about it. Now that we’re a couple of days into Lent, which means no meat on Fridays for me, I plan to make it again as a staple for a light lunch. But it would serve just as well in a brunch, a classy baby shower buffet, or as a pre-dinner appetizer.
So how about you? Where do you stand in the Smoked Salmon Debate? And do you think this tasty dip could change your mind? Let me know in the comments!
Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip
- 4 oz. smoked salmon
- 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp. fresh chives
- 2 tsp. cream-style horseradish
- 1/4 c. mayonnaise
- 1/4 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well blended and consistency reaches your liking. Serve with crackers, fresh vegetables, or on toast or bagels. Store covered in the refrigerator.
When I think of smoothies, I don’t often consider lemon as a particularly tempting flavor. Lemon in cocktails, muffins, or chicken recipes? Yes, all the way. But lemon in a smoothie? Sounds a little odd. I would think the tangy taste would be a bit too overpowering for a snack as tame as a smoothie–or that putting lemon juice in with dairy would produce something curdled.
Then again, lemon yogurt was always my favorite growing up, and I think we can all agree that lemon sweets are some of the best around. (P.S. I just counted, and just on this blog I have 13 recipes with lemon as their primary flavor.)
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the flavor of lemon–especially when paired with raspberry–in this easy smoothie turned out refreshing and delicious. The sunshiney tartness mixed with that pretty rosy color just stole my heart. And my mouth.
Plus, a lemon raspberry smoothie gave me an excuse to use the candied lemon slices I bought from Trader Joe’s, which I didn’t actually need, but were so cute and appealing I couldn’t resist. (Like so many other things at Trader Joe’s.) Now that the package is open, I guess I’ll have to go and make those other 13 lemon recipes and garnish the heck out of ’em.
Looking for more lemony goodness this winter season? Try some of my other recipes!
Lemon Raspberry Smoothie
- 3/4 c. frozen raspberries
- 1 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. almond milk
- zest of 1 small lemon
- juice of 1/2 a small lemon
- whipped cream, for topping
- Place raspberries, yogurt, honey, and among milk in a blender. Zest lemon directly into the blender, then juice the 1/2 lemon directly in as well, straining for seeds. Blend well and top with whipped cream, if desired.
Last weekend, while I was out at the toddler cooking class I teach once a month, my husband got together with a group of guys for a Sausage Festival. I’m not being gross. They literally hung out for several hours making sausage. I kinda wish I could have been there, because this is one aspect of food production I have never personally experienced…and, though it’s not terribly glamorous, it’s pretty interesting! So before I dive into this tasty Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale–which, of course, uses the sausage from the Sausage Festival–here’s a little glimpse into the process.
Apparently it all starts with pork shoulder, cut into chunks.
Then the pork goes through a grinder…
And gets mixed with a blend of spices–in this case, parsley, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes.
And finally, the part everyone knows and loves: filling the casings with the meat to make links!
Pretty floral apron optional.
As far as I’m concerned, the best part about the Sausage Festival is that we now have homemade sausage to last until Kingdom Come. The guys made both links and bulk sausage, so I was only too happy to use some of the bulk kind up in this hearty, Mediterranean-style Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash.
It all starts with yourr basic giant yellow squash, baked and scraped to get those signature squiggly strings so reminiscent of pasta. In the meantime, you’ll brown some sausage and wilt some kale in a bit of garlic-infused olive oil on the stovetop. Toss these yummy goodies–plus some sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, and cannellini beans–with the squash strings. Refill the shells, top with a sprinkle of mozzarella, and bake one more time for the finished product!
As a one-dish meal, this Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash is full of nutrients from the kale, beans, tomatoes, and squash, makes a ton, and reheats well. I think you’ll enjoy it, even if you don’t have the luxury of homemade sausage.
Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale
- 2 large spaghetti squash
- 3/4 lb. mild sausage
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch kale
- 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained
- 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick both spaghetti squash all over with a fork and microwave each one for about a minute, to soften.
- Slice squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Place squash halves cut side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes.
- While squash bakes, prepare the rest of the filling. In a large pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned and crumbled. Remove from the pan and place on paper-towel lined plate.
- Using the grease left behind by the sausage (or supplementing with olive oil), saute garlic and kale until kale begins to wild and garlic begins to brown. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan and cook an additional minute or two. Place mixture in a large mixing bowl, along with cooked sausage.
- When squash has finished baking, remove from oven and scrape most of their contents into the mixing bowl, leaving a small border of flesh. (Be careful, squash will be hot!) Mix squash strings, sausage, and kale mixture thoroughly.
- Divide the mixture among the four squash halves and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and filling is warmed through. One serving equals half of a squash boat.